Chapter 5

Stochastic Path-Tracing Algorithms

This chapter discusses a class of algorithms for computing global illumination pictures known as path-tracing algorithms1. The common aspect of these algorithms is that they generate light transport paths between light sources and the points in the scene for which we want to compute radiance values. Another, although less vital, characteristic is that they usually compute radiance values for each individual pixel directly. As such, these algorithms are pixel-driven, but many of the principles outlined here can be equally applied to other classes of light transport algorithms, such as finite element techniques (to be discussed in the next chapter).

First, we present a brief history of path-tracing algorithms ...

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